Trauma to the brain is a serious medical concern and should never be taken lightly. Unfortunately, traumatic brain injuries, especially concussions, are relatively common, with more than 1.5 million Americans suffering from one every 15 seconds. While the number of occurrences is high, it’s also likely not an accurate representation of the total number of concussions people experience.
Concussions are scary, especially for children. Parents are often left trying to calm their child as well as themselves. No matter how mild or severe you perceive a concussion to be, it’s vital to seek immediate medical attention to reduce the risk of the long-term effects associated with a traumatic brain injury.
What Causes Concussions?
According to the Concussion Legacy Foundation, concussions are “caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth.” This rapid movement causes the brain to slam into the skull’s sides, stretching and damaging brain cells. This damage can affect various brain functions, and there are some serious health risks associated, depending on how severe the damage.
Sports-related concussions are some of the most common brain injuries. The CDC estimates there are anywhere between 1.6 and 3.8 million sports-related concussions each year. Most of these injuries occurring in children who participate in sports. In fact, because of their weaker neck muscles and developing brains, adolescents are at a higher risk for concussions, especially if they start playing sports at an early age. Concussions can happen at any point during practice or competition. According to a 2019 study from the Journal of Pediatrics, 36% of reported high school concussions occurred during practice, with Cheerleaders experiencing the most during practice over competitions.
Falls are particularly common for small children and the elderly. In children, TBIs are the number one reason for emergency room visits for those between the ages of 0-14. However, it’s important to note that while they are the leading cause of ER visits, they are not the leading cause of TBI-related deaths.
As hard as you try, car accidents are not always avoidable, and they can be downright scary for parents when the little ones are in the car. Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of concussions in younger children, as are they one of the leading causes of TBI-related deaths of those between the ages of 5-14. While you might be tempted to assume that you or your child are fine after a car accident, it’s always best to get checked out by medical professionals to rule out any serious brain injuries.
What Are the Concussion Symptoms?
Immediately following a concussion, many people experience a sudden headache and confusion. Some even experience short-term memory loss and cannot remember the event that produced the traumatic injury to their head and body. Because concussions are common in young children, even toddlers learning to walk, parents need to be aware of these immediate signs. If your child has hit their head recently, you might always want to be on the lookout for:
- Unusual fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting
- Delayed response to questions
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Loss of balance
- Excessive crying
- Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
Whether a concussion is mild or severe, there are still some significant changes that you can be on high alert for, especially if your child hits their head playing sports or in a fall. While long-term effects are relatively rare, they can harm the quality of life. Most people with a TBI will see their symptoms improve in a few weeks, but if they don’t, here is what you should look for:
- Trouble concentrating
- Memory problems
- Personality changes
- Sensitivity to noise and light
- Sleep disturbances
- Depression and other mental health issues
- Disorders of smell and taste
Only about 20% of those with a concussion will experience post-concussion syndrome, where they can continue to experience severe symptoms for more than six weeks. Additional or multiple concussions also increase your chances of suffering from long-term consequences, especially if you don’t give your brain time to heal.
Mitigate a Concussion
At Grey Matters of Carmel, we care about your brain. So, when you or your child has suffered a concussion, stop by for a free consultation. Our brain mapping will help us determine the severity of the TBI, and then we can help develop a neurofeedback therapy plan that’s right for you. Not only can your brain begin to heal, but you will start to see improvement in the side effects associated with such an injury. Contact us today to get started.